The print edition of The Blue & Gray Press is a valuable and irreplaceable outlet of student expression at UMW. It is not enough for the newspaper to operate only online.
In 2018, the Student Finance Committee attempted to pull print funding from The Blue & Gray Press. Although they did not succeed, COVID-19 temporarily shut the print edition down for the fall 2020 semester.
It is our opinion that being online only created a feeling of disconnection from the work we published, both among writers and on campus. This negatively impacted the quality of writing and the morale of the staff. Since the print edition began again this spring, we’ve already noticed a positive difference.
Having a print edition holds writers and editors to a higher standard for the work they do. While online articles can be corrected in a second, mistakes made in print articles cannot be taken back. Once mistakes are in print, they require a correction in the next issue of the paper.
Seeing one’s work and accomplishments in print is exciting, and holding the administration and the community as a whole accountable is more effective in print. Only having an online edition can make important news out of sight, out of mind.
The newspaper connects the UMW community together and keeps students, staff and administrators informed. It provides a way for all students to showcase their work, write about their passions and voice their opinions and concerns. The print newspaper provides normalcy in a time when everything is digital and the campus feels vastly different from the one we left in March 2020.
As far as sustainability concerns, we’ve cut down the number of printed copies each week to account for less people on campus, which saves on waste. Each week we monitor how many paper copies are picked up to make sure we’re not printing too many, and all papers not picked up are recycled by us.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, in 2018 newspapers had a recycling rate of 64.8 percent. Because recycling is available to everyone on campus at UMW, the number of papers recycled here is likely higher.
With a limited number of journalism-focused classes at UMW, writing for The Blue & Gray Press is the best way for aspiring journalists to learn and showcase their work in a professional way. Besides the newly-reformed literary art magazine Aubade, The Blue & Gray Press is the only remaining print publication at UMW, and its history stretches back to 1922. Many other prominent Virginia universities, such as UVA, Virginia Tech and William and Mary, all have print student newspapers. As the university attempts to align itself with the policies and practices of other Virginia schools, eliminating the print edition of The Blue & Gray Press would only make us less competitive and noteworthy.